Flash Physics: Cosmic-ray balloon, Tokamak Energy plasma, ripples in cosmic web, APS in open access scheme

physicsworld.com | 4/28/2017 | Staff
A 532,000 m3 super-pressure balloon to study ultra-high cosmic rays has been launched in New Zealand by NASA. The balloon's international Extreme Universe Space Observatory (EUSO) instrument will observe a broad swathe of the Earth's atmosphere to detect the ultraviolet fluorescence as cosmic rays hit the Earth's atmosphere. The instrument will aim to detect cosmic rays that have an energy greater than 1018 eV. The balloon will operate for around 100 days and is expected to circle the planet two or three times. If the mission is a success then it could pave the way for a EUSO instrument to be installed on the International Space Station that could then observe a greater area of the Earth's atmosphere.

The UK-based company Tokamak Energy has created the first plasma in its ST40 tokamak reactor. The firm will now complete the commissioning and installation of a full set of magnetic coils for the device, which will provide greater control over the plasma. The company plans to achieve a plasma temperature of 15 million degrees by autumn 2017 and have the plasma at 100 million degrees in 2018. At this temperature it should be possible for hydrogen nuclei in the plasma to fuse together, releasing large amounts of energy. Tokamak Energy has ambitious plans to create a fusion reactor capable of generating electricity by 2025 and have a commercially viable source of fusion power by 2030. Unlike the much larger ITER tokamak fusion reactor that is being built in France, the ST40 is a compact device that can run at a much higher plasma pressure. This, according to Tokamak Energy, should make more efficient at achieving fusion. Creating a dense plasma will require very strong magnetic fields, which the firm plans to generate using superconducting magnets. Some critics, however, are sceptical that such magnetic...
(Excerpt) Read more at: physicsworld.com
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